Tammy Brown

Probate Judge Tammy Brown is seen in this 2014 file photo.

Cullman County’s probate judge will be issuing same-sex marriage licenses on Feb. 9 if nothing changes in the current court landscape.

“I don’t see how I would have a choice,” Cullman County Probate Judge Tammy Brown said. “I am obligated to uphold the constitution.”

On Tuesday, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court in Atlanta denied Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange’s request to extend the stay that continued the implementation of Alabama’s now-defunct Sanctity of Marriage Act, which banned same-sex marriages in the state.

The attorney general requested an extension to avoid “confusion.”

“The confusion that has been created by the District Court’s ruling could linger for months until the U.S. Supreme Court resolves this issue once and for all,” Strange said.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in April and is expected to issue a ruling by June regarding whether gay couples nationwide have a fundamental right to marry and whether states can ban such unions.

If a higher court does not intervene sooner, same-sex couples will be able to legally wed in Alabama on Feb. 9. With that date fast approaching, Alabama is poised to become the 37th state where same-sex marriages are legal.

The Sanctity of Marriage Act was struck down on Jan. 23 by U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade, who cited the constitutional amendment as a violation to the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment.

A 14-day stay was ordered by Granade to give Strange and the state of Alabama time to begin the appeals process. The U.S. district judge did not lift her order Tuesday in the interest of allowing probate courts across the state time to prepare.

Gov. Robert Bentley wrote in a prepared statement that he was let down by the ruling.

“I am disappointed by the 11th Circuit’s decision today,” he said. “The issue of same-sex marriage is a complicated one that involves all levels of government. My request to the 11th Circuit was simply to ask that the stay be held until the Supreme Court can rule once and for all this year or pending the fully briefed 11th Circuit appeal of the issue. I support the Attorney General’s decision to ask the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay of the 11th Circuit’s decision.”

Cullman’s probate judge said she would be mindfully following the court process.

“I will be monitoring this closely,” Brown said. “I am under oath to carry out our constitution.”

Barring any unexpected rulings, she will issue licenses on Feb. 9.

Brown added that she has not met with any same-sex couples since Granade’s decision.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Zach Winslett may be contacted at zwinslett@cullmantimes.com or (256) 734-2131, ext. 137.

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